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JUNE 17 - JUNE 25, 2014

Lewiston Keeps Auditor on Payroll
Move to Prevent Johnson's Firing Turns out to be to Carry Him to Pension

June 17, 2014

Mike Johnson hopes to stay on until August .

Lewiston, NY -- Will Mike Johnson leave now or in August?

At the Town of Lewiston's June 9th monthly work session meeting, Town Supervisor Dennis J. Brochey made a surprise attempt to eliminate the position of the town's Internal Claims Auditor held by Mike Johnson.

Johnson served as finance director under former town Supervisor Steve Reiter, and ran unsuccessfully against Brochey in last year's Democratic Primary for town supervisor.

According to Brochey, Johnson's position was targeted for elimination after he discussed the matter with Finance Director Paul Kloosteman, a Certified Public Accountant, who assumed Johnson's former position on Feb. 3.

"We can do without the services of Mike Johnson at this point," said Brochey. "I assign Johnson no work whatsoever and I'm not sure what he actually does."

Brochey also proposed cutting the junior accounting position currently held by Katelyn Allen from full to part-time.

On Monday night, no action was taken by the town board to eliminate or cut either position.

"We have three people doing finance here," Brochey told the Reporter.

At Monday's meeting, Republican board members said they wanted discussions on the matter kept secret from the public.

"It was the first we heard about this," said Councilman Al Bax at the meeting. "Can't we do an executive session?"

At the January reorganizational meeting, the town board voted to create the job of internal claims auditor, a position no other government in Niagara County has with the exception of the Lewiston-Porter school district. Lew-Port's internal claims employee works once per month and collects an annual salary of $1,500.

The town board appointed Johnson to the position and voted to pay him $43,000 plus benefits, the same salary Johnson earned as finance director.

Brochey characterized his support as a transitioning plan where Johnson would aid Kloosterman in learning the details of Lewiston's budget.

Brochey said at the time that he had a "long talk" with Johnson, and the two agreed to a plan that Johnson would leave the town once Kloosterman was ready to manage the town's finances by himself.

At last week's meeting, the supervisor told the board that Kloosterman is ready.

Sources said the Republican board tabled the matter because they intend to allow Johnson to remain on the town payroll until at least Aug. 11 when Johnson turns 62 and will qualify to collect a state pension.

Johnson told the Reporter he filed paperwork with the state for a planned retirement on Aug. 29, making the issue not whether Johnson will leave, but when he will leave the town - in August or before that.

Johnson said among the duties he has been engaged in have been tallying money the town is due from developers for under-billed engineering fees, which he said may be around $10,000, and pursuing Greenway funds.

"I'm working here every day," Johnson said.

As of today, with Kloosterman's $60,000 salary, Johnson's $43,000 salary and Allen's $39,000 salary, the town has the largest finance department in its history.

Johnson said his continued employment until August will not affect the amount of his pension but permit him to earn money until he collects his first pension check.





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Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
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